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How to Handle Injuries at School

Children spend a significant amount of their waking lives at school. Because of the sheer amount of time spent in such settings, parents want to know their kids are safe on the school campus. Unfortunately, accidents can happen virtually anywhere, and some injuries at school are inevitable. Still, the law requires teachers and school administrators to do everything in their power to prevent such accidents from occurring.

When a child comes home from school hurt, most parents are eager to understand how such a thing could have happened. Many question who is responsible and how medical bills will be covered. It’s important to understand how accidents occur and how schools might indeed be liable for the injuries sustained on their watch.

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Common School Injuries

School nurses have their work cut out for them: about 80 percent of elementary school students seek medical attention each year. Childhood is riddled with risks, but in a school setting, accidents can lead to serious injuries including:

  • Broken bones
  • Sprained muscles
  • Brain injuries and accident related concussions
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Food poisoning
  • Dehydration
  • Asbestos exposure

While these kinds of injuries can be sustained just about any place, they are especially alarming when they occur in a place designed with children’s safety in mind. Playground accidents, for instance, can turn a place of laughter and fun into a minefield. Equipment like monkey bars, jungle gyms and swings can be dangerous when students are not properly supervised.

Playgrounds aren’t the only place where injuries occur at school. Sports-related accidents frequently lead to musculoskeletal injuries in children. Schools can be held responsible for such injuries if they resulted from improper training, inadequate supervision or faulty equipment.

Then there’s the issue of motor vehicle accidents occurring on school property or under school supervision. A school bus accident is handled much in the same way as any other car accident settlement case, where the at fault driver is made to pay for any medical bills, lost income, or pain & suffering they caused. As kids walk to school or leave school grounds, there are often auto accident settlements involving pedestrians being hit by a car.

Hazardous settings also frequently result in childhood injuries at school. The law requires school districts to maintain reasonably safe environments for students. This involves maintaining the building in a timely manner, searching for unknown hazards and warning students of potential risks. Failure to do so can result in serious injury and even death.

Tragically, school violence has also become an increasingly prevalent problem. Bullying, gang violence and fights can all result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Many local laws require schools to warn faculty of students with violent tendencies and to suspend those who threaten the emotional and physical safety of their peers.

School Liability

School injury liability varies from state to state. Generally, though, schools have a duty to provide as safe an environment as possible for students and staff. Many lawsuits brought against schools center on an school administration’s negligence. Injuries may be caused by other students, teachers or accidents on the premises, but the school administrators can be held liable for such incidents.

A school and their employees can be held liable for action in negligence for injuries that occur as a result of insufficient supervision. For example, if a teacher fails to stop a fight between students because they were out of the room at the time of the incident, their failure to intervene could constitute actionable negligence. Courts will look to determine whether or not a teacher had a plan to supervise students and if they used reasonable care to prevent injuries.

Schools can also be held responsible for negligent hiring practices. If an employee’s background has not been thoroughly checked or they have not been adequately trained to supervise students and injuries occur on their watch, the school can be sued. Evidence that the school was indeed negligent in their hiring of a particular employee will be necessary for a successful case.

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About Kat Sterret
Katherine (Kat) Sterret is an experienced content writer and strategist with a wide range of interests and skills. A dedicated mom of two, lover of books and horses and general wearer of many hats, Kat’s skills have added a lot to the team.